MUMBAI: A team of researchers from IIT-Bombay may have a solution for the perennial problem of pollution around the city’s dumping grounds.
Prakash Ghosh and his team from the institute’s department of energy science and engineering have developed a design of microbial fuel cells that can produce electric energy using waste. The cells will not only help in generating power but will also curb pollution caused by untreated waste.
A microbial fuel cell works on the principle of oxidation of organic materials by micro-organisms. The researchers used landfill leachate – a dark liquid that either percolates through the landfill system or is composed of waste water – as fuel for the cells. The leachate is highly polluted and can contaminate groundwater if left untreated. However, it contains organic and inorganic nutrients, which release energy when broken down.
“The microbial cells also help reduce the COD (chemical oxygen demand) levels in the leachate, thereby treating wastewater partially. This water can be treated further and released into water bodies,” said Ghosh. “Other conventional methods use electricity for the treatment of water. The microbial fuel cells are the most effective way of generating electricity and simultaneously treating water.”
Perfecting the next Generation Utility Platform
The team’s newly developed electrodes using conducting polymers are resulting in higher organic matter oxidation and power generation. “We believe our electrodes are the cheapest compared to existing literature,” said Ghosh.
The research paper on ‘Landfill leachate: A promising substrate for microbial fuel cells’ by Ghosh, Jayesh Sonawane and Samuel Adeloju